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Cops Ride on Crooks Cash

The Westport Police Department vehicle fleet is about to get three larger with the purchase of a set of used Harley Davidson motorcycles. Even better than more vehicles on patrol, is that the town isn't paying for them, the crooks are according to Deputy Police Chief Dale E. Call.

"This allows us to use the criminals money that is just sitting in a bank fund," said Call. $50,000 taken out of the Assets Forfeiture Fund, money that results from criminal investigations, will be used to buy the motorcycles. There are a number of ways a department is allowed to spend the money, with new vehicles being one of the options.

"Traditionally, as a department we would be loathe to spend any of this money. We should save it for a rainy day," said Call. However, the discovery of three motorcycles for sale that fit their needs was too much of a temptation.

Board of Finance Vice Chairman Charles Haverstrom questioned the department's priorities. Another accepted use of the money would install up to 10 cameras in cruisers. Call quoted that price at between $35,000 and $50,000.

According to Call, the issue with the cameras is simply dissatisfaction with the existing technology, coupled with an uncertainty of the cameras longevity and where the laws on asset forfeiture will be in five years. With the motorcycles, there is no guesswork. "I would rather spend the money on something we know will work," said Call.

To that end though, the deputy chief did note that an existing camera in one of the squad cars did exonerate the department in car chase. The criminal ended up driving into a tree and the video proved the police did not force that action. The Board of Finance approved the fund expenditure, despite several agreeing with Haverstrom that they would like to see more cameras in the cars instead.

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